Colmar is perhaps one of the most the most photogenic places ever. The town is believed to be the inspiration for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast - and it’s not hard to see why.
The place is exquisite and to be completely honest, looks a teeny bit fake, it’s so unbelievably perfect.
While I’m no Disney princess (princesses don’t wear jeans), Colmar makes you want to skip down its technicolor streets whistling to the birds!
Located in the Alsace region of France, Colmar is French with a German twist which is reflected in the architecture and the cuisine.
In fact the Alsace has changed hands between France and Germany several times throughout history. Just look around and you’ll easily see both influences.
I was somewhat expecting this fairytale town to be itty bitty, full of tourist traps and tat shops - but it was, however, a lovely surprise to find an array of restaurants (from Michelin star to crêpe stands), a wealth of shopping, cute cafes and sunny terraces.
The best part is that you can just wander and take it all in without an agenda or having to book tickets for anything. The sights of the town ARE the town itself.
But, naturally, there are certain perfect Instagram spots that you should definitely head to with you camera at the ready. . .
Little Venice (La Petite Venise)
The picturesque half timbered houses span the river Lauch. It may be a mini Venice, but is it, no less, a fairytale version.
Fisherman’s Quay (Quai de la Poissonnerie)
Fisherman lived and worked here back in the day and now it is one of the top spots for a fab photo.
There is just so much colour! Fun fact - the colours of the houses indicate the type of merchant who resided there: blue: fishmongers, green: market gardeners, white: bakers, yellow: cheese makers and pink: fancy… ahem… ladies.
Covered Market Hall
Built in 1865, the covered market is located just across the canal. There’s a lively little restaurant terrace (La Terrace du Marche) attached to it overlooking the canal, if you’re lucky enough to bag a table. (The market also has public restrooms - result).
Boat Ride down the Lauch River
The small flat bottomed boats leave from the base of the Sant-Pierre bridge. When we were there you had to purchase timed tickets from the bar at the restaurant next to the quai. It’s €7 for adults, €4 for children up to 10, and free for children under 4.
The scenic boat ride only takes about 25 minutes and takes you on a short ride up and down the river, ducking to go under bridges.
We joked with our 8 year old son that it was basically the real-life version of the ‘it’s a small world’ Disney ride, but without the agonizing queues!
Old Town Colmar
There’s actually a lot more to the Old Town than I expected - it seems to go on and on, and there’s a wealth of quaint alleys and oh so many photo opportunities.
There is a decent amount of shopping as well and, of course, a cafe on every corner to sit and admire the colour and fantasy of it all.
Square de la Montagne Verde - Kids Park
The Champ-de-Mars Park
The French know how to do a good park. The green space, the fountains and the crêpe stands give that quintessential vibe that means you can only be in France.
While this Champ-de-Mars is a lot smaller than its Parisian namesake, it’s a great spot to relax and have a crêpe or waffle at the gorgeous crêpe stand, Crêpe Gaufre.
The nearest airport to Colmar is Strasbourg (a 55 minute train ride), but you can easily get there from Zurich (a 2.5 hour train ride), or Basel (a mere 45 min train) - which was where we flew in to.
From Basel airport, you can get the #11 bus from the bus stop located directly outside the Arrivals exit. A 10 minute ride takes you to the Saint Louis train station and costs €2.50 for adults and is free for kids.
The train to Colmar is €14.60 for adults and €7.30 for children and takes 45 mins to an hour. The station in Colmar is centrally located and was about a 10 minute walk to our hotel.
We stayed at Hotel Quatorze, an amazing little boutique hotel in town. Located in one of the historic houses, we had the whole converted attic to ourselves, which was really something with the gorgeous porthole views.
Extra Travel notes:
We flew to Basel, Switzerland and took the train directly to Colmar and stayed two nights at the Hotel Quatorze. We did a day trip via train to Strasbourg, France while we were there and then spent one night in Basel before flying home to Amsterdam.